Bill Would Streamline the Application Process for the ‘Senior Food Box Program’ and Reduce Burden on Seniors and States
Bill Comes After Examining Senior Nutrition Programs at Aging Committee Hearing
Washington, DC - Today, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), leaders of the Special Committee on Aging, applauded the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee’s passage of the Nourishing Our Golden Years Act, which would streamline the recertification process and reduce burden on states in the administration of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), also known as the Senior Food Box Program. The legislation was passed out of committee as part of the Senate’s bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill.
“Millions of seniors facing food insecurity don’t know where their next meal will come from. That’s why federal nutrition assistance programs like the Senior Food Box Program are such a vital lifeline to older adults in Pennsylvania and throughout the country,” said Ranking Member Casey. “I am pleased that the Nourishing Our Golden Years Act is included in the committee’s Farm bill so that older Americans, who have worked hard their entire lives, do not struggle in their golden years for something as basic as having food to eat.”
“Far too many seniors in Maine and across the nation find themselves forced to choose between buying food and buying prescriptions drugs or paying essential bills,” said Chairman Collins. “The Senior Food Box program provides qualified seniors with fruits, vegetables, and healthy non-perishable foods to fill this void. Our bipartisan legislation would not only make it easier for seniors to continue to receive the assistance, but it would simplify the process for state agencies that provide this critical support. I am delighted that our bill has been included in the Farm Bill, and I will continue to encourage my colleagues to support final passage of the Nourishing Our Golden Years Act.”
The Senior Food Box Program improves the health of Americans, ages 60 and up, by providing a monthly box of non-perishable items to program participants. Currently, participants must recertify every six months to remain in the program, even though most participating seniors are on a fixed income and unlikely to experience fluctuations in eligibility. Participants who miss their deadline to recertify are no longer eligible to receive a food box and must reapply. The six-month recertification period poses a barrier to participation. The Nourishing Our Golden Years Act would lift this barrier by extending how often participants must recertify to once per year. This policy change would also minimize the administrative burden for both participants and states, making the program work better.
Last year, the Aging Committee held a hearing on senior nutrition. In 2014, 10.2 million older adults, ages 60 and up, experienced some level of food insecurity. Seniors who are food insecure are more likely to experience depression, develop asthma and report heart problems—all of which can lead to increased doctor and emergency room visits as well as hospitalizations. In the U.S., the estimated annual cost of disease-associated malnutrition among older Americans is more than $50 billion.